Group: Forum Members
I agree with Simon in his comments. I also think that an AIS transceiver significantly improves safety. I have the ICOM unit and have for 4-5 years. I consider ICOM the top name in these kinds of products, well made and well R&D'd before release.
A couple of observations: the ICOM appears to be more "self-contained" than some of the other units I have noticed (this is casual observation--I have only real hands-on experience with the ICOM). In other words, it seems less dependent on outside equipment to function (for ex. it has its own GPS antenna and is not dependent on input from another source: perhaps a reliability plus). The ICOM also "weds" with my ICOM VHF so if I want to communicate to the bridge of a vessel that is picked up by the AIS unit, I have but to highlight it, "click", and a DSC signal will go to their bridge VHF: no transferring of MMSI numbers etc. and the mistakes that can entails in the middle of the night.
Lastly, I would look for a unit that allows you to turn off the transmit (tx) portion of the units functioning. There may be times you wish to go stealth, but, more importantly, I would want our class B recreational units to be able to be silenced in high volume areas like the Solent. Last time I was there, I had over 200 returns registered before my prior nav system crashed. More importantly, I worry that a frivolous use of AIS by recreational boaters (like the Solent on a bright sunny day where you stay out of shipping lanes and there are 500 boats around you) will cause the commercial captains to turn off their receive function for class B and forget to turn it back on when they get offshore where I really want them to have it.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy